Monthly Archives: February 2015

Blog Post 5 – Selfies

Selfie is defined as a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or cell phone. The word selfie was introduced into the Oxford-English dictionary several years ago after it became an international fad. The selfie, only gaining popularity in recent months, is not going anywhere with the likes of snapchat, tinder, instagram and the newly invented selfie stick. I would argue that selfies can be broken down into three distinct categories.

The first category is comedic effect. I am not the type of person who takes selfies to post on Facebook, but I do occasionally send snapchats of myself to friends. In these snapchats, my only intention is humor. For example, I took a selfie of myself with my yoga mat at PE class two weeks ago. I knew some of my closer friends back home would crack up when they saw my roommate and me taking weekly yoga classes. Occasionally, there are snapchats that pop up on Facebook of my friends making funny faces with a comical caption.

The second category is selfies that are to be posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Tinder. These selfies, similar to what we discussed, are posed and thoughtful similar to a self portrait. Before posting one of these photos, the person thinks about the way they want to be perceived whether it is a physical activity/hobby they want people to know about or if they look exceptionally good and want people to see the photo. There are easy ways to hide certain features when taking selfies, based on the angle of attack, lighting, area of focus, accessories. When taking a selfie that is meant to be posted on social media, all of these components are thought about decisively.

The third category is the desire to show people what you are doing. This category is similar to photos. Last weekend, I won a squash tournament. I took a picture of myself with the trophy to show my parents. The goal of this photograph was to keep my parents, family and friends at an arms length away thousands of miles apart. Pictures are worth a thousands of words and make a relationship feel that much stronger. People also take selfies at the top of a hiking trail, surfing in the ocean, and biking on cliffs to show people what they are up to.

My main goal of this blog post is to demonstrate that it is hard to generalize the intent behind a selfie. In class a term like narcissistic was thrown onto the board. Although one can make the argument that even when you don’t care how you look, you are subconsciously aware, I think all selfies range in motive and are hard to create a “formula” for. For the next couple of days, walk around campus and spot the people taking pictures of themselves. Think about their facial expression, where they are, what they are doing and I think you might get a better sense that all selfies have a different motive.

Blog Post 4 – Gender In Student Government

Earlier this week, Davidson College’s next SGA President and Vice President were sworn in. Ben Callinder, the new Vice President, and I happen to be close friends. After the election was over, I began to reflect on my own student government experiences from high school. I noticed that student governments are overwhelmingly dominated by males. The Student Senate at my high school was made up of 10 guys. This years Presidential Election on campus only had male candidates. I am confused as to why these type of positions are dominated by males?

I came across a New York Times article earlier today about gender and student government. University of Southern California is set to elect their first female Student Body President in ten years. The article notes, similar to my experience, that the trend of female underrepresentation in Student Government is still continuing. Date shows that 63 percent of females have not even thought about running for such positions compared to 43 percent of men. At bigger schools, that difference accounts for thousands of students. Based on these statistics, it appears that this gender gap will remain for an extended period of time. I am just confused as to how this gap even started in the first place.

Even though this article mainly focusses on Student Government, we can see women’s leadership isn’t close to that of men. We have yet to have a Female President of the United States. Augusta National just admitted their first female member three months ago. The number of male CEOs outweighs the number of female CEOS. I don’t know what it is about our social construct that leads to this dramatic difference in “power,” but their is clearly an underlying theme. Is it just society catching up from the early colonialism time period? Is it the way males look down upon women? Is it just that women don’t enjoy these roles? This is something that I have began to think about more and more recently and I am just confused as to why.

Blog Post 3- Patchwork World

Today’s discussion of the Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson got me thinking about how I am my own “patchwork.” Although I am not physically stitched together, I have been pieced together by the genetics of my parents and their respective families. In the everyday world we hear people say, “you like exactly like your uncle” or “you have your mothers eyes” and even “you and your grandfather have the exact same build.” I am know biology major, in fact I have never taken a biology class before but I know that this is because of genetics and chromosomes.

To put it in perspective, my eyes, including the fact that I am color blind, come from my mothers father. My thick brown hair comes from my father. My height and skinny build come from my mother’s side of the family where my uncles are both tall and thin. There are other attributes that I have chosen to omit, but it is evident that I am many different patches stitched together by  genetics and the reproductive process. Besides looks, my name comes from many different sources. Matthew is my father’s middle name. Durnin (my middle name) comes from my grandmothers maiden name. Dwyer comes from a long lineage of family history traveling back to Ireland and the great land of Potatoes.

In my case, not only my physical appearance and name are a patchwork, but everything in my daily life revolves around the main goal of creating a unified structure similar to the actual Patchwork Girl. Emotionally, each day brings a different mood. With these moods comes a different desire and a unique set of goals that bring about many different outcomes. Weeks that flow from the highs of good grades and nice weather to the lows of tiredness, boredom and rain make me question who really is Matthew Durnin Dwyer. Do I have one particular identity? Can I be figured out easily or does it take a while to actually know me? Lastly, can I be divided into 5 sections that each lead a reader/viewer down a new road? These are questions I ask myself. At this point in time I don’t have an answer. Some days I think I have it narrowed down the next I fall back into the pit of confusion.

We learned in the Cyborg Manifesto that the body is a social, cultural and historical production and process. Overtime, I have changed both emotionally and physically, altering my patchwork and stitches. Thus, making I am a hybrid and a cyborg of some sorts. It’s easy for me to look at the Patchwork Girl noticing the ways she doesn’t fit in or the ways the monster is shunned in Frankenstein but it is hard for me to do the same thing about myself. When I do step out of my own shoes, I only grow more confused as to who I am or why my actions change based on the group of people I am with. For now, I am a patchwork.

Blog Post 2 – Love in the New World

In volume three of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, we learn that the Monster desires a female counter part that would result in another creation from Victor. The monster claims that this would solve all of his issues. Over the course of the text, the monster began to examine a village and realized the important of human relationships and family. The Frankenstein’s are that “perfect” family the monster wanted to be adopted by. But, as we all know, that was made impossible when Victor ran away after his creation. The monster had been avoided by much of the village purely because of his looks. He was tall, strong, wears yellow eyes, black lips and is physically stitched together.

This blog post was inspired by today’s class activities. I began to wonder how Frankenstein, a monster, and quite frankly a scary creature would handle himself with the technologies of the 21st century. In today’s world, we see a similar trend on a smaller degree. There are online dating sites such as Christian Mingle, Jdate, Farmers Only and others. There are iPhone apps like Tinder, Bumble and other sources like Craigslist. The reason for which people use these data bases vary. Some use them for fun and to procrastinate work or prank their friends. Others use them to find a “hook up” for one night or just to see what would actually happen if they matched with a girl who was hot. Then, there are those who use them to find a girlfriend and potentially a future wife.

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I find my struggling to picture Frankenstein having any “success” formulating a profile that will lead to the creation he has dreamed of. He said, “you must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being.” When Frankenstein realized he would struggle to find any matches on tinder or he knew his only other option would be a new creation.

Before he destroy the Frankenstein family, the parents were happily married and Victor was all but ready to marry Elizabeth. The monster has realized that he is hopeless and will live the rest of his life depressed, lonely and animosity. On page 169, “I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me.” Without a second monstrosity, he will continue to kill, ruining families that he sees as a threat to his health and well-being. The monster brings this to Victor because he is the only one who can make a difference just like people in todays age feel like applications and online databases are the only solutions to their life without a companion. Although there is no real connection between social media and Frankenstein, it is the driving motivation behind this post. 

Blog Post 1 – Transformation of Body Image

The inspiration behind this blog post is Anne Balsamo’s  “Technologies of the Gendered Bodies” coupled with the rapidly changing views on the natural body due to the aid of social media in the 21st century. A quote from her introduction goes as stated, “The examples I discuss, taken from the media of everyday life (newspapers, advertisements, television programs, magazines), signal ways in which the “natural” body has been dramatically refashioned through the application of new technologies.” (5)

The body is a social, cultural, historical production and process. In todays world, teenagers grow up watching hours and hours of television. Not to generalize the television industry, but these actors and actresses (mainly focusing on actresses) are skinny, very attractive and have figures that aren’t seen on a day to day basis. Now, as time has passed and social media has grown tremendously, these changes have become more prevalent. Just last week I saw a post on Facebook that discussed the ramifications of a Urban Outfitters advertisement/clothing article. The model, showing off new lingerie, was extremely skinny and had what I learned to be called the “thigh gap.” In protest of the general population, Urban Outfitters modified the add, but they can’t change the past. It is rare to see women who are even the slightest bit “over weight” in major advertisements, modeling gigs, sponsored Instagram posts, and dating sites. Last semester a surprisingly high amount of people watched the Victoria Secret fashion show, something that only reconfirms the notion that the body has changed. Because of this portrayal, teenagers and even older women feel as though they have to change there body figure to be good looking or to find a special someone.

On top of the effects on the “natural” body from what women are “supposed” to look like from our every day lives, technology can physically help this transformation. For some people, it is impossible to have a better jaw line or have perky breasts so procedures have been creating to compensate for this demand. However, without the aid of social media this demand would have been prolonged. Last summer, I was watching a television show similar to the “Biggest Loser.” The were several differences starting with the number of participants, there were only 2. These two participants were often family members or friends. If they lost the required weight, the show would pay for the extra skin to be surgically repaired.

That are a lot more roles technology has played in the transformation of the attractive, beautiful, and “natural” body that surrounds us. There is little that can be done, in my opinion, but I think the more awareness around this issue will only make things better. Learn to love your body.